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Neurotoxin effectively relieves bone cancer pain in dogs, Penn researchers find
Date:10/23/2013

By the time bone cancer is diagnosed in a pet dog, it is often too late to save the animal's life. Instead, the goal of treatment is to keep the dog as comfortable and free of pain as possible for as long as possible.

A study out this week in the journal Anesthesia by University of Pennsylvania veterinarians Dorothy Cimino Brown and Kimberly Agnello has identified a new way of accomplishing this goal. Their trial, conducted in 70 pet dogs with bone cancer, demonstrated that a single spinal injection of a neurotoxin provided more relief from pain than the pain-relieving drugs that are typically used.

Because of the similarities between bone cancer in dogs and the disease in humans, these findings suggest that a similar approach could provide effective pain relief in human bone cancer patients, Brown said.

"Dogs are a really good model for testing these kinds of drugs, so showing that it worked in dogs provides strong evidence that it could be safe and effective in people too," she said. "This study is the direct predecessor to a human clinical trial."

The research focused on a neurotoxin called substance-p saporin, or SAP. Previous work had suggested that SAP could selectively destroy neurons that carry pain signals to the brain, but the compound hadn't been tested in a pet dog population. Brown and Agnello wanted to determine if SAP, which had been subject to toxicology tests in the past, would offer relief from the pain that comes when cancer affects the bone in client-owned dogs.

Bone cancer tends to afflict middle-age and older large-breed dogs. The first sign an owner may notice in their pet is a limp or change in gait. If the pain appears to persist, a veterinarian may perform an orthopedic exam and take an X-ray.

"At the point at which you identify a cancerous lesion on an X-ray, there's already known to be metastatic disease," said Brown.

Treatment at this stage is unlikely to save a
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Contact: Katherine Unger Baillie
kbaillie@upenn.edu
215-898-9194
University of Pennsylvania
Source:Eurekalert

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